Ballona Wetlands Restoration



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The restoration of the Ballona Wetlands is an important endeavor that aims to increase wetland habitat, restore ecological functions, and protect native species. With careful planning, control of runoff, and preservation of critical habitats, the wetlands can be rejuvenated and thrive once again.

The involvement of the Ballona Wetlands Foundation and the support of the community are essential in ensuring the long-term success of the restoration project. By working together, we can create a healthy and vibrant wetlands ecosystem for generations to come.

Restoration Overview

The planned restoration of the Ballona Wetlands aims to increase the wetland habitat and restore its ecological balance.

Currently, the wetlands cover less than 190 acres due to human activity and urban development. However, with the restoration, the wetlands will expand to 249.6 acres of wetland habitat, along with an additional 99.5 acres of native terrestrial habitat. This will result in a total of approximately 340 acres of restored wetlands.

The restoration project focuses on five main components of the Ballona Wetlands system:

  1. The Saltmarsh: This area will be restored through a mixed tidal plan, encouraging the growth of native wetland vegetation while also providing habitat for other species.
  2. The Freshwater marsh: Located south of Jefferson Boulevard and west of Lincoln Boulevard, the freshwater marsh will serve as wildlife habitat, manage stormwater flows, and improve water quality.
  3. The Riparian corridor: This component will help maintain the flow of water and provide a habitat for various plants and animals.
  4. The Bluffs and other uplands: Bluff habitat is crucial for many animals and native plants, including burrowing owls, raptors, and small mammals.
  5. The Dunes: The dunes will be restored to support a diverse ecosystem and attract endangered species like the El Segundo blue butterfly.

By restoring these components, the Ballona Wetlands will regain its ecological functions and provide a healthy, vibrant habitat for a variety of species.

Freshwater Marsh Overview

The freshwater marsh, located south of Jefferson Boulevard and west of Lincoln Boulevard, plays a crucial role in the overall health of the Ballona Wetlands. Historically, this area was covered by freshwater marshes, and the restoration aims to recreate and enhance this habitat.

The freshwater marsh will serve three primary functions:

  1. Wildlife habitat: The marsh will provide a vital habitat for various species, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.
  2. Management of stormwater flows: The marsh will help regulate the flow of stormwater runoff, preventing flooding and supporting a balanced ecosystem.
  3. Water quality improvement: By filtering and cleansing the water that flows through it, the freshwater marsh will contribute to improving water quality within the wetlands.

These functions are essential for maintaining a healthy wetland system, and the freshwater marsh will play a critical role in achieving this goal.

Freshwater Marsh Runoff

Control of runoff from the freshwater marsh is a crucial aspect of the restoration project. The management of runoff ensures that the wetlands can function properly and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

The restoration project includes a sophisticated Best Management Practices system that will treat runoff not only from the Playa Vista area but also from the surrounding communities.

This system will cleanse the water before it enters the wetlands, as well as before it enters Ballona Creek or the Santa Monica Bay. Currently, polluted runoff flows unchecked into the Ballona Wetlands, negatively impacting the ecosystem.

By controlling and treating the runoff, the restoration project aims to restore the wetlands’ natural water quality and prevent further pollution. This will contribute to the overall health and sustainability of the Ballona Wetlands.

Saltmarsh Overview

The salt marsh restoration plan developed by the Ballona Wetlands Foundation adopts a mixed tidal approach. This plan includes areas with limited tidal flow, which will encourage the growth of native wetland vegetation like pickleweed.

The plan incorporates areas of deeper tidal action along with upland, dune, scrub, and native grassland habitat.

The goal of the salt marsh restoration is to create a thriving ecosystem that supports a diverse range of species and provides the necessary habitat for their survival. Public input will contribute to shaping the final design and ensuring its effectiveness.

No Endangered Species

Currently, no federal endangered species reside in the Ballona Wetlands. Only one state endangered subspecies, the Belding’s savannah sparrow, resides in the wetlands. However, this subspecies lives in the pickleweed areas that will be expanded with the restoration, providing a more suitable habitat for its population.

The restoration project aims to create potential habitat for endangered species by expanding willow groves and planting native vegetation. Species like the Southwestern willow flycatcher and the clapper rail may return to the wetlands if the conditions are conducive.

The dune area may attract the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly through the planting of dune buckwheat.

While the wetlands currently do not host a significant number of endangered species, the restoration project aims to create an environment that supports the return of these once-native species.

The Bluffs

The bluff habitat within the Ballona Wetlands is essential for the survival and well-being of many animals and native plants. Various species, including burrowing owls, raptors, and small mammals, depend on the bluff habitat for nesting, foraging, and shelter.

Native plants, in particular, play a critical role in stabilizing the bluffs and preventing erosion. These plants have adapted to the unique conditions of the bluffs and contribute to the overall health and diversity of the wetlands ecosystem.

The restoration project will prioritize the preservation and restoration of bluff habitat to ensure the continued survival of these species and the overall ecological balance of the wetlands.

Non-native Predators

Non-native predators pose a significant threat to the native wildlife of the Ballona Wetlands. These predators, which have thrived in the absence of proper ecosystem management, decimate native animal populations and disrupt the biodiversity of the wetlands.

By restoring the wetlands, the project aims to discourage the presence of non-native predators and create an environment that supports native animals. With the restoration of native plants and appropriate habitat management, the wetlands can once again become a safe haven for native species.

Restoration plays a crucial role in protecting native animals from non-native predators and preserving the overall ecological integrity of the Ballona Wetlands.

Monitoring/Assessment District

The restoration project includes strict monitoring plans and permits to ensure the effectiveness of the restoration efforts. Currently, no monitoring of the wetlands is in place, but the restoration project aims to change that.

A monitoring plan will be implemented to track the progress and impact of the restoration over time. This will help identify any potential issues or challenges that need to be addressed. By closely monitoring the wetlands, the project can adapt and refine its strategies to achieve the desired outcomes.

To ensure the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the newly restored wetland ecosystem, an assessment district will be created. This district will be responsible for funding and overseeing the long-term management and preservation of the wetlands.

The combination of monitoring plans and the establishment of an assessment district will help guarantee the sustainability and success of the Ballona Wetlands restoration project.

The Ballona Wetlands Foundation

The Ballona Wetlands Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Ballona Wetlands. The foundation plays a vital role in the restoration and management of the wetlands, overseeing the implementation of a comprehensive restoration plan.

In addition to its restoration efforts, the Ballona Wetlands Foundation also focuses on educational programs and activities. These initiatives aim to enhance the public’s appreciation and understanding of the wetlands, fostering a sense of stewardship and conservation.

The foundation’s Board of Directors, assembled through court action, demonstrates the power of collaboration and cooperation in achieving a common goal. With their expertise and dedication, the Ballona Wetlands Foundation is driving the restoration project and working towards a healthy and vibrant wetland ecosystem.

Through its restoration, management, and educational programs, the Ballona Wetlands Foundation is making a significant contribution to the preservation of this unique and valuable habitat.

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